Researchers have warned that a new bacteria, which has an “alarming potential to spread and diversify”, could lead to the end of antibiotics.
The bug, a gene called NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-ÃŸ-lactamase), is resistant to almost all antibiotics and currently there are no methods available to combat it.
According to the experts, international travel and medical tourism resulted in the rapid spread of the drug-resistant bacteria. The study was published in The Lancet.
Although NDM-1 spread in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, there have been 37 cases in the UK as well. These patients are said to have travelled to India or Pakistan for medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery.
Timothy Walsh of Cardiff University and his international colleagues said: “The potential of NDM-1 to be a worldwide public health problem is great, and co-ordinated international surveillance is needed.”
The gene, which could be copied and transferred between different bacteria, is usually found in E Coli – a common cause of urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Study co-author Dr David Livermore, director of antibiotic resistance monitoring at the Health Protection Agency, said:
“The findings of this paper show that resistance to one of the major groups of antibiotics, the carbapenems, is widespread in India.
“This is important because carbapenems were often the last ‘good’ antibiotics active against bacteria that already were resistant to more standard drugs.”
Copyright Press Association 2010